What is Anxiety?

Bad Habits
Mental Health

In a survey administered earlier this year, Canadians were asked to describe their feelings about the current state of their lives. The two words used above any other were ‘worried’ and ‘anxious’. Between the financial insecurity brought on by workplaces closing, the stress of worrying about  our loved ones’ and our own health, and the ever fluctuating regulations that have left many of us isolated, it’s no surprise that over half of Canadians report their mental health is either “somewhat worse” or “much worse” than years prior.

88% of Canadians have experienced at least one symptom of anxiety this year, and 41% reported symptoms consistent with moderate to severe anxiety. 71% of Canadians report feeling nervous and on edge. 69% report high levels of irritation. 64% stated that they have trouble relaxing.

These statistics are understandable at a time when everything seems to be up in the air; our schedules have changed dramatically, our circles of support have become smaller than ever, and the future seems murky and unclear. With all that’s going on, prioritizing our mental health may not be at the top of our to-do list, but overlooking our anxiety may be exacerbating other issues, and can lead to longstanding consequences in the future.

Directing Attention to Anxiety

What does anxiety look like? It ranges from person to person, but some of the most common symptoms include:

⦁ Nervousness or tense feelings- while it is healthy for everyone to feel worried from time to time, anxiety is characterized by elongated periods of nervousness that often precede a valid reason, and may be paralyzing.

⦁ An unsubstantiated feeling of danger- anxiety at its core is a “fight or flight” response in the body. Those suffering from anxiety may feel panic or dread at an upcoming ‘danger’ that may be exaggerated, or non-existent altogether.

⦁ Difficulty sleeping- constantly overthinking and worrying can lead those suffering from anxiety to lose sleep. This often prompts a vicious cycle; insomnia can worsen anxiety as anxiety worsens insomnia.

⦁ Irritability or a Short Temper- anxiety often manifests as elevated levels of frustration or anger. Those suffering from anxiety may experience higher rates of impatience, and may ‘blow up’ over small things.

⦁ Trouble Focusing- anxiety often causes the mind to wander, making it difficult to concentrate on conversations or tasks.

⦁ Withdrawing and Self-Isolation- individuals suffering from anxiety may experience an urge to withdraw and self-isolate to avoid being triggered.  

The effects are not limited to your moods and behaviours; anxiety can cause muscle pain, sweating, trembling, an increased heart rate, hyperventilation, digestive problems, persistent headaches and an overall feeling of “weakness”.

How Online Therapy can Help

If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, one of the best things you can do is get help early. Like many other types of mental illness, anxiety becomes more difficult to treat the longer you wait. It can have other effects as well; countless studies report that left untreated, anxiety can lead to panic disorders and depression. It can also negatively affect your immune system and cause long term health risks.

Therapy gives you the tools to manage intrusive anxious thoughts. It can help you recognize and correct toxic patterns of behaviours. It teaches you to regulate your moods, and avoid triggers in healthy ways.

Research has proven Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, to be one of the most effective intervention methods to treat anxiety. While it recognizes that your circumstance can affect your mood, CBT exists under the premise that it is predominantly your thoughts that cause negative emotions and behaviours. As such, by redirecting our thoughts, we can develop more effective coping mechanisms that improve our emotional health. Coincidentally, CBT is one of the therapies most well received through online sessions, which means that you can receive practical treatment as effective as in office sessions from the comfort and safety of your home.

Online psychotherapy can provide comfort for those anxious about the safety risks associated with in-office sessions during the pandemic. It also adds a level of accessibility that helps those who feel paralyzed by their anxiety attend sessions regularly.

Getting Started

Getting started with online therapy is as easy a few clicks. At Mind + Zest we have a committed team of psychotherapists that can provide the support you need to manage anxiety and improve your quality of life. Go to https://www.mindandzest.com  to get connected to an intake specialist free of charge. After carefully assessing the issues you’re looking to tackle, they will match you with one of our Ontario board-approved psychotherapists that can best help guide you through your journey of self-improvement and mental health.

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